Google gets a little glue-like

Many people know I’m a fan of a web service called Glue (although it’s at the URL, “getglue.com”, not glue).

I allow the service to follow me around the web and it gives me the chance to thumbs up or thumbs down products, books, movies, music. I have a hard time explaining what it is, especially when I say something like, “It’s like Foursquare, but you check in when you hit a page on Wikipedia instead of when you go to a restaurant.”

There are many cool things about Glue (the way it demonstrates the concept of “the semantic web” is worthy of deep study, for example), but its primary benefit at this point is the way in which is allows you to see how your friends have reviewed products. Think about that. Typically, on the web, when you go to a book page on Amazon.com, you read reviews from strangers. Glue allows you to see reviews from your own network of contacts. Not only movies, but whatever categories of products and topics you select, from gadgets to wine.

This concept, which I’ve been fascinated with for a couple of years — since I first started using Glue — the ability to interact with a network of people throughout the web, rather than in a specific URL-fenced-in area — has influenced my perception of what the web can one day be. It points to a future in which we won’t go to Facebook or Linked-in or Twitter to interact with a network of connections: We will interact with them wherever we find ourselves throughout the web.

Today, Google took a step in this direction by announcing that someone who is logged into Google and who has associated their Google profile with corresponding identities on social networks and other social media, will have their search results interspersed with relevant reviews or comments from people in their networks of contacts on those services.

This is a rather big deal that, like most anything that involves “identity,” can be both beneficial and alarming. Beneficial, if you discover a bad review of a movie posted by someone you personally trust — say, a college film profession you friended on Facebook. Alarming if you ponder how many points of data about you that Google has to collect in order to pull this off.